Saturday, August 23, 2008

moving sculpture

In the tradition of 'Restless Rocks', Tuesday was a very long day that involved moving many of our monumental sculptures.

The day began early at Yew Dell Gardens, where we removed the sculptures from their outdoor sculpture show. Karla Drover helps me to get a dolly under the base of Meg's male dancer. I was very happy that they kept my huge stone hand on the grounds for a while longer.
Derek of JBB, Inc. was the crane operator for this day's effort. He is adjusting the rigging on the Wave Vessel which was sold during the show. It was delivered to a residence less than 10 miles from the gardens.
Frankie Vessels helped me load "Moments" for its return to our studio.
It was a real treat when we installed my sculpture "Inspiration" at its new home in Floyd Knobs. The residence has an incredible panoramic view of the Ohio valley around Louisville. You can see the buildings of downtown in the background.
While Meg, Derek and I were installing "Inspiration", Frankie Vessels had taken his semi and flat bed trailer to Cardinal Kitchens to load up 2 huge blocks of marble. We met him at the studio where we unloaded them. This is a cubic meter of white Italian marble - the best that we've ever had. This one belongs to Meg, and I'm excited to see what she does with it.
The second cubic meter of marble belongs to me, and it is a cream, light orange version of Spanish Pink Marble.

While we had the crane, we decided to move in some of the old sculptures to finish them. Frankie was nice enough to stick around and help. The first piece that we moved was Meg's "Sea Lion".

We also moved Meg's "Wolf & Pups" from the sculpture garden to the front of the studio, so that she could finish it.

Every time that we moved the crane, the outriggers had to be set back out and heavy wood pads set under them. It's also exhausting climbing up and jumping down off the big trucks. You have to be careful that you don't make a mistake while moving the heavy stone sculptures, because you're tired. Gravity never lets up, and it won't forgive carelessness.

"Oberon" was placed on the rail cart. That was the end of a long day.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Signed, Sealed and Delivering

The main effort for this week was preparing my stone sculpture "Release" for its 2500 mile journey to Oak Harbor, Washington. Monday was spent fussing over minor details that showed up when the piece was power washed. After a second washing, it was signed and then sealed with a breathable sealant.

The first task of building the crate, involved building a strong base that would withstand the weight and the stresses of shipping.

A 1 inch hole was drilled into the wood cribbing to accept the sculpture pin. It will prevent the piece from moving within the crate. I am adding 4 small braces to help assure this fact.

A plywood box will protect the piece during shipping.

The top was placed over the piece and fastened to the base.

I use R & L Carriers to ship my work.

It's a bit of a trick to get a big crate into the back of a truck using a crane.

This is a picture of total futility. We couldn't budge the 4,000 lb. crate once it was on the truck, even with a pallet jack under it.

Where there's a will, there's a way. Steve ( the driver ) and I got on the same side and gave it everything we had. It moved. Now, it's on its way to Washington. I will fly out there to meet it and do the installation.

During the last bit of the week, I returned to working on my new sculpture "Reveal". I have begun to carve the intertwining forms around the inlaid marble piece.

The other 2 pieces of marble were inlaid and more of the intertwining forms have been carved.

This was the progress at the end of the week.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Victor Oolitic Stone Company

The high point of the week was our visit to Victor Oolitic Stone Company near Bloomington, Indiana to get a load of stone. I will show pictures of their operation at the end of this post.

Monday, I polished the Wave Vessel and moved it out of the studio for powerwashing.

Saturday, I polished and drilled the base. The vessel was attached to the base with a brass pipe to hold the piece and allow draining. A drain channel in the bottom, back side allows water to move from under the piece. The base came home on the Wednesday stone run - you can see it on the pallet, top left (on edge) in the picture of the loaded truck below.

The rest of the week was devoted to the creation of a pair of entry / gateway sculptures that are based on this rendition. I've been struggling with the title - I think the winner is "Reveal", although I've considered "Inner Truth". The composition is based on Geodes, specifically the Amethyst 'Cathedrals'. It represents the revealing of inner beauty hidden inside a rough exterior.

The first half of the pair was moved to the shady side of the studio. This piece is 6 foot long by 2-1/2 foot by 2-1/2 foot and weighs approximately 3,000 lbs. I've already drawn the line to make the bottom flat (on left) and drawn the lines for the inside cavity.

The first task is making the bottom flat. I make a cut as deep as the blade will go, then break off the waste stone with a hammer and make another cut. Then I check the flatness with a level and grind where needed.

I remove the bulk of waste stone from the inner cavity by making parallel cuts with the saw and breaking the pieces out with a hammer.

I used the air hammer and carbide-tipped chisel to clean out the inside cavity and create a preform surface to begin the inlay of the marble pieces and carve the intertwining forms.

The next step involved the creation of the 3 rounded marble forms that will be inlaid into the cavity. This is a piece of Brazilian White Marble and is scrap from the School for the Blind commission by Paul Fields. My apprenticeship to Paul in 1987-90 involved working on that commission and one of the perks was being given some of the waste pieces.

I used the diamond saw to cut it into 3 elliptical preforms.

I used a grinder to shape the pieces into rounded 'cabochons' - flat bottoms, elliptical outline and rounded tops. The piece on the right has been bush textured by the air hammer. This makes a very sparkly surface when its in direct sunlight.

The next step involves inlaying the marble pieces into the stone cavity.

At one point during the week, work was interrupted when a cold front moved through the area. I snapped this picture of a funnel cloud forming over the studio.

Wednesday, Meg and I rented a flatbed truck from Penske and made the 100 mile trip to Bloomington for a load of stone. Most of the way is across pretty countryside, but hard to make time on the hilly and winding roads.

We had a little time to kill before they could load us, so we took pictures of their operation. This is the quarry where they cut the big blocks from the ground. A group of 3 men are standing on a 250 ton piece that has been cut from the face and turned over. They are drilling holes and splitting it into blocks that will weigh 10,000 to 20,000 lbs. apiece.

The large quarry blocks are moved to the building with the band saws. The diamond band saws cut the block into slabs.

This is a better look at the band saw.

The slabs are then moved to another building that has a series of bridge saws. The thinner slabs are cut with a 3 foot diameter saw, the thicker pieces are cut with this 5 foot diameter saw.

One of the workers pointed out this cut block to us, which was ordered by another sculptor. Nobody knew who the sculptor was or what the piece would be - it'd be interesting to know.

Our order was loaded onto our rented truck. Most of this load will become bases for our sculptures.

Meg wanted to drive all the way up and back; which was fine by me as I could sit back and look out the window.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Clement Mineral Museum Fluorite dig

Saturday, Meg and I drove 3 hours to Marion, Kentucky to participate in their Fluorite dig. I will show pictures and share my impressions at the end of this posting, but business first.

I continued work on the large sculptural vessel for Chuck and Sarah O' Koon of Louisville, Kentucky. I refined the hemispherical form of the bottom of the 3 foot diameter bowl by using a plywood template, in order to get the form exactly right. The black lines show me where it is high and that I need to focus my effort.

The next step involved using a grinder with a masonry wheel (shown) to smooth out the bumps left by the diamond wheel.

Then comes the long process of sanding and polishing the form. The first step is using this sander with a 36 grit pad.

I switched to an air-powered orbital sander. This gives a very smooth surface, without the swirls that the regular sanders leave. I use the progressively finer grits of 80, 220 and 400 to get the final surface finish.

The polished hemisphere gets a 1 inch hole for the threaded brass pipe that will allow the vessel to drain and will work as a pin to hold the vessel on its base. I've placed a piece of red tape on the drill bit so that I will have the hole at the correct depth. This will help me know that I'm at the right depth for the bottom when I flip the piece over and begin to hollow out the inside. The level on top of the piece will help me keep the hole vertically plumb.

In the tradition of 'restless rocks', the piece is flipped over again.

Using the diamond wheel (shown), I cut out the waste stone from inside the vessel.

Then, repeating the process of the outside, I ground the form of the inside.

This was the progress at the end of the week. I have formed the 'waves' around the edges and the inside and edges have been sanded at the 36 grit level.

Below is a picture from the Dave Matthews concert that I went to this week.
The Clement Mineral museum and Fluorite Dig
When I drove through Marion, Kentucky after taking the ferry across from Cave-in-Rock, Illinois on my birthday (see June 16 post), we saw a sign advertising a Fluorite dig sponsored by Clement Mineral Museum. After checking out their website, we sent in our $40 and signed up for the August 2 dig. The first stop was at the museum. It had lots of great specimens from the collection of B. E. Clement who used to own some Fluorite mines. There was lots of pictures and equipment from the old mining days. There was also a good display of back lit minerals and a UV display. My only criticism is the lack of a logical flow to the main display. The regional minerals were mixed in with minerals from world localities and great specimens were mixed with low-grade material. I would suggest that they separate the regional specimens by mine localities with pictures from the sites to give more 'life' and relevance to the story, move the world localities to another room and separate them by mineral families. Low-grade minerals without significance could be removed to storage - because, ascetically, 'less is more'.

Our guide (and property owner) Bill Frazer, took 5 car loads of 10 adults and 2 kids to the site of 3 abandoned mines -Columbia , Eureka (shown above) and Mary Belle-that were within walking distance of each other. They were located in a wooded area next to a creek. Essentially, the sites consists of the funnel-shaped holes of the caved-in mine shafts and small piles of mine dump rubble (shown).

After hours of sweat drenching and muddy labor, Meg, myself and most of the others had little to show for our effort. This family from Georgia used the only technique that would produce results. Using a pick, the husband pried stones from the rubble pile, while the wife examined them for signs of Fluorite. We had assumed incorrectly that Fluorite was occuring in the ground naturally and that it was to be found loose, like 'floaters' in the ground. However, it can only be found in the piles of rock from the mine.
The Eureka site, which is next to the creek involves a great deal of digging in dirt and mud. The two other sites are dryer and basically entail turning over every rock and breaking open those that show some color.

After moving and examining a lot of stones from the dump pile, they were able to find small pockets that have some Fluorite crystals.

After washing the mud off in the creek, you can see the dark purple color of the Fluorite in the pockets.

This was the best piece that they found (unless they found better, after we left). There is a picture on the museum website of a nice big Fluorite specimen, however, what
we found was loads and loads of limestone with occasional purple streaks. As this is mine tailings, most of the crystals are damaged in some way if they are on the surface of the stone.
Perfect specimens can be found in protected pockets or by breaking open rock with a large hammer.

There was the remains of an old brick building on the hill above the Columbia mine. I believe this was a smelter for refining lead and the trace amounts of silver that are present in the Galena.

Meg found this specimen of Galena in a Quartz matrix. on the hillside below the smelter. Basically, I was unable to find anything of significance. Each of us were allowed to collect a 5 gallon bucket of material, but I couldn't even find enough 'spar' (purple gravel) to fill even half of our allotment.

The highlight of the trip was when the couple from Georgia gave us these specimens of petrified Coral from southern Georgia. I reciprocated by giving them some pearly pink dolomite from Corydon, IN and a small 'thumbnail' of Millerite from Halls Gap, KY